All you’re missing at this point is traffic.
Ideally search traffic. Which means you’ll need backlinks.
So you have 2 main options: build them or buy them.
Building them yourself takes a lot of time that you may not have, so you turn to buying them.
If you don’t have the budget for an SEO agency, you’re going to be looking for SEO link building services. These focus on one specific type of link usually.
Since Google’s been killing most types of link building, guest posting services are currently very popular.
On one hand, you have many options to choose from. However, many SEO services are shady and essentially scams.
This short post will look at how guest posting services mislead and trick you so that you end up with near worthless links.
I’ll also go over how to try and spot these in advance, and how to find a good service.
Trick #1: The Bait and Switch
Many guest posting services look great upon initial inspection. They guarantee guest post links from high domain authority (DA) sites.
But when they deliver the links, taking a closer look often reveals that the link is on a private blog network (PBN).
These typically use a generic magazine theme and you’ll notice that there’s barely any comments or social activity around the site. In other words – it’s a fake site.
PBN links can be effective, but are 100% blackhat links and can get you penalized. More importantly, it’s not what you paid for.
You were led to believe that you’d get a link from a legitimate site that has real traffic.
The content itself is usually low quality and outsourced to an overseas content farm. Some services are even shameful enough to use spun content.
Trick #2: Posting as a Contributor
If you’ve ever spent time on forums like Warrior Forum or WickedFire, you’ve likely seen services that promise they can get you guest post links on huge site like Forbes, Fast Company, Business Insider, etc.
They charge quite a bit, likely have some positive reviews from users who were given “samples,” and appear legitimate.
So you bite, and then you get an email with your “guest post link” a week or two later.
Upon first glance, all seems well.
But the vast majority of these types of guest posting services get you a guest post link from a post in the contributor section.
It’s not that the link is useless, but it’s not the super powerful link you dreamed of.
Contributor articles are rarely featured on the most authoritative pages of the site, so don’t benefit too much from that high DA.
It’s not a bad link in the sense that it’s useless or will get you penalized, but it’s likely not worth how much you paid for it.
It is possible to get legitimate links from those sites, but not through guest posting. Instead, you need to pitch actual journalists (ideally build relationships with them) and get them to write about you.
Some services do this, but not many. It’s also something you can’t always guarantee, so if the service doesn’t address the scenario where they can’t obtain the link (do you get money back?) that’s a red flag.
How Do You Spot Junk Guest Posting Services?
Honestly, it’s tough to spot certain fake guest posting services because all the surface content on their website looks so polished.
But some are more obvious.
Here are the biggest red flags of ineffective guest posting services.
They Pay Their Writers Peanuts
Here is pricing information for an unnamed guest posting service:
They alter the cost based on the length of the guest post, and it comes out to about $0.03 per word.
If you want to post on a legitimate high authority, high traffic site, your guest post needs to be high quality itself. It can’t just be an average post, or it won’t get posted.
I’ve been a freelance writer for over 5 years, and I can tell you that the best writers in any niche charge a minimum of $0.10 per word. I’ve written guest posts on sites like CoSchedule (DA 80+), Ahrefs (DA 80+), and many more.
If a service is using a content writer or team that charges pennies per word, the quality is not good enough to get on a real site, and you’re likely going to end up with a PBN post.
Most guest posts are 800-2,000 words long in my experience. That means the content alone should cost the service $80-$200 alone. Then add in outreach and a profit margin, and it’s clear that a guest post on a reasonably high DA site (30+) is going to cost in the range of $150-250 (at least).
It’s expensive, but that’s what real quality and effectiveness costs.
Their Own Content Is Sloppily Written
If you can easily find typos on their own website, it’s unlikely that the guest posts they write are any better.
More so, poor attention to detail is a red flag when you’re entrusting them to find legitimate guest posting opportunities and not just the first easy way out.
Do They Have Any Clients or Samples Listed?
What better way to see if a service’s guest posts are high quality than to see actual examples.
If they list clients, plug them into Ahrefs, go to the backlinks tab, and find any guest post links.
While you can’t tell if those links were built by the specific link building service in mind, you should be able to spot similar work if you inspect multiple clients.
What Do Legitimate Guest Posting Services Look Like?
Other than avoiding the red flags above, what should you actually look for in a service?
Start with a well-written site that emphasizes manual outreach:
Next, look for information about their team.
If you Google these names, are they actually real people who work in marketing of some sort? Or just made up ones with stolen stock photos?
That alone eliminates most of the worst offenders, but some sham services will still have a nice polished website.
At that point, head to Google and try to get a sense of their reputation.
To find discussions about them, use a search string like: “(Company) inurl:forum”.
Finally, if you have a good feeling about a service, start with a small package. If the quality isn’t great, you won’t lose too much. If you’re happy with the work, then go ahead with a larger order.
Guest posting services are one of the last types of white hat (or potentially white hat) services left.
They can be effective, but many guest posting services are essentially scams that leave you with links that do nothing or penalize your site.
I hope this short guide helps you learn what red flags to look out for and find a quality service that will help your site rank better.